Want to Use Your HVAC Unit to Relieve Allergies? Check Out These Top Tips
If you suffer from allergies, you are far from alone. Over 50 million Americans deal with runny noses, itchy, red eyes, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing that can be seasonal or year-round. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the US. Well, they say misery loves company! We’d rather breathe easier though. Fortunately, it’s possible when you use your HVAC unit to clear the air and relieve allergy symptoms.
HVAC and Allergies: What’s the Connection
You depend on your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning – HVAC – unit to maintain optimal temperatures in your home. But these systems can also help you battle allergies.
There are a few considerations to keep in mind, though. The air filters in HVAC units are designed to protect the equipment by preventing dust from getting into the components. They are not intended to trap allergens – at least not as their top priority. Another issue is that while filters do trap airborne particles, they can also harbor mold and mildew that trigger and worsen allergy symptoms.
These are easy challenges to overcome. How?
- Invest in a high quality filter that can trap even very minute particles. Look at the MERV (minimum efficiency recording value) rating. This will be from one to 20: higher numbers offer more filtration power.
- Consider HEPA filters. High efficiency particulate air filters are typically rated from 14 – 16. When you have allergies, you may need more help! HEPA filters are rated between 17 – 20. Instead of paper, HEPA filters are made from densely packed glass fibers. This enables them to capture more fine particles.
- Change your air filters every three months. If you have pets, change them more frequently. The good news is that filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to switch out by yourself. We’re happy to show you how when we come by for your annual HVAC cleaning.
- And speaking of a cleaning… schedule an HVAC service once a year. This keeps your system clean (and, by extension, your air cleaner) and functioning properly.
There’s a “but” here: if your centralized HVAC unit is not designed for use with HEPA filters, you could put too much stress on the system. Give us a call so we can advise you on the best solution. Using a standard filter with a higher MERV rating may be the best bet for centralized systems.
Some other steps you can take to breathe easier:
- Dust your vents and registers. If this task hasn’t made it on your to-do list yet, take a peak. You’ll likely see a significant build up of dust and debris. Take some time to get them dusted or vacuumed (if you’re the allergy sufferer and dust is a trigger, vacuuming is the way to go). You’ll reduce particulates in the air very easily – and likely quite noticeably.
- Clean and dust the area around your HVAC unit. With outside units, make sure you remove debris from around the unit. Inside, vacuum away dust and debris that can otherwise be recirculated inside your home.
- Watch the humidity. We know – it’s North Carolina! Humidity is part of the deal. But keeping an optimal level inside is important. When it’s either too low or too high, it can trigger allergy symptoms. And, of course, if it’s too humid, mold can grow. Some systems maintain proper humidity; if not, use humidifier units in key rooms, such as your bedroom.
- Add UV lighting. Research shows that UVC, or germicidal ultraviolet light, helps prohibit the growth of mold and mildew and kill airborne spores, bacteria, and viruses. Adding some UV lamps can be an easy, inexpensive way to improve air quality.
When you and/or someone in your home deals with allergies, any step you can take is important in improving air quality – and their quality of life. HVAC can play an important role. Give us a call for your annual cleaning or to learn about HVAC options that can help you fight the battle with allergies – and win.